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Release Number: 09-1074-NAT
Oct. 20, 2009
Contact: Diana Petterson
Phone: 202-693-1898

US Labor Department's OSHA addresses need for combustible dust standard
Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking solicits comments from public

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will publish an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) in the Oct. 21 edition of the Federal Register as an initial step in development of a standard to address the hazards of combustible dust.

"It's time for workers to stop dying in preventable combustible dust explosions," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Workplace safety is not a slogan. It's a priority clearly embodied in our laws."

"Last year, 14 workers lost their lives in a combustible dust explosion at Imperial Sugar in Port Wentworth, Ga. Since 1980, more than 130 workers have been killed and more than 780 injured in combustible dust explosions," added acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab.

OSHA has been conducting a Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP) since October 2007; a status report is available on OSHA's Combustible Dust Safety and Health Topics page. The NEP has resulted in an unusually high number of general duty clause violations, indicating a strong need for a combustible dust standard. The general duty clause is not as effective as a comprehensive combustible dust standard would be at protecting workers. Responses to questions posed in the ANPR will help the agency propose an effective combustible dust standard.

Support for a combustible dust standard came from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board in 2006 and again in 2008 during a congressional hearing when the board said a new standard, combined wi